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Old 05-05-2008, 11:05 PM   #1
B.J.M.
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More Seagal on YouTube

This is from an old show that aired on channel 7 ABC in Los Angeles back in the early 80's. This features a young Seagal talking about and demonstrating Aikido.

Enjoy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ab60i-FE0YA
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Old 05-06-2008, 11:36 AM   #2
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Re: More Seagal on YouTube

You know, that wasn't half bad....
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Old 05-06-2008, 03:34 PM   #3
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Re: More Seagal on YouTube

Good review. Matsuoka is good as well. I got to see him once at an OSU festival sponsored by Aikido Today when I first started training and all I remembered was he did a lot of pretty fancy moves.
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Old 05-21-2008, 11:03 AM   #4
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Re: More Seagal on YouTube

Very nice. I may have been mistaken, but I thought I saw that at least one point Seagal-Sensei was employing some atemi-waza before delivering his technique - I couldn't tell if it was more for distraction or if he was actually landing the blows, but it does show that good atemi-waza has its place. I don't know if Seagal-Sensei learned his striking skills solely through his Aikido instructors or if he has trained in other arts as well, but it looked like a valuable skill to have, at least in my opinion.

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Old 05-21-2008, 01:06 PM   #5
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Re: More Seagal on YouTube

I believe he studied karate with Fumio Demura who performed at the Japanese Gardens in Los Angeles.
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Old 05-21-2008, 08:20 PM   #6
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Re: More Seagal on YouTube

Here again in this interview he talks about seeing an Aikido demonstration done by "this little old man" in the 50's. Does anyone know of an Aikido demonstration that would have been held at half time of an American football game in 1957 or 58 (when Seagal was 6 or 7 yrs. old) . And who this "little old man doing amazing" things was?
Seagal told a similar story-though I think it was a baseball game then- of his fictional character in Above the Law, which had intentional truth mixed with fiction PR put out with the film.
So any idea who this old Aikido master could have been in the 50's?
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Old 05-21-2008, 11:16 PM   #7
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Re: More Seagal on YouTube

Someone had mentioned that they thought it may have been Shioda sensei giving a demo.

I don't doubt that he saw an Aikido demo, but where, when, who is in question.

I do doubt that it was O-Sensei however.
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Old 05-22-2008, 06:26 AM   #8
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Re: More Seagal on YouTube

Oh I think we can do better than that. It most certainly was not Ueshiba. Further, what little old man of aikido would be in the U.S doing a demo at a football game in 1957.
Shioda would not have been old. Further, for any of them to be here would have certainly been mentioned as it would have been approved by Ueshiba's relatively new organization. We have thousands of pages of interviews of virtually all of his contemporaries and students. With all manner or exhibitions, demonstrations, public gatherings, silly kneeling wrist grabs by Kennedy's bodyguard (blown out of proportion as an actual "encounter") Draegers visit, Tenryu's testing, even arrests and war crime revelations. Being invited to do a half time demonstration in front of upward of ten thousand people would have been a noteworthy invitation. Tohei would have been 37 yrs old. His visits to Hawaii in 53 and 55 to teach at a single dojo were somehow noteworthy enough to have been mentioned by many, many aikido contemporaries, yet an invitation to demonstrate to ten thousand people at a football game went unmentioned?
How curious.
Its interesting that even Teddy Roosevelt's request for teachers from Takeda Sokaku was noted and mentioned, and the teaching of princes and generals and admirals, everything right done to many of these guys bathing, and eating habits. Yet this important event was missed. Perhaps it is worth noting Seagal says it was a football game in one place, and a baseball game in another, but in both he mentions a little old man throwing multiple ukes.
Hmmm...
1. In the 50's who was alive who was old and doing aikido?
SInce multiple men were being thrown.
2. Who would they be?
Now we have not one persons story being missed, but a whole group of men not bothering to mention it, or tell interesting stories around the request for a visit, the arrangements the after affects etc.
Again , odd since we have so many sotries of simply traveling on a train, or taking a taxi in Japan with Ueshiba.
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Old 05-22-2008, 06:53 AM   #9
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Re: More Seagal on YouTube

Perhaps Stan can shed some light on this curious event. I popped on over to Aikido Journal to open a thread under Aikido history.
Seagal's "Aikido demonstration at a football game in 1957?"
http://www.aikidojournal.com/forums/...?p=87008#87008
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Old 05-22-2008, 09:50 AM   #10
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Re: More Seagal on YouTube

I don’t recall Seagal Sensei stating it was a professional or even college football game. It very well may have been a high school game.
By the mid 1950’s you had several ‘older’ advanced Hawaiian aikidoka; albeit some of their aikido could have had a strong judo or karate influence. In any event, there very well may have been someone in the area or that may have been invited. No doubt a demo, choreographed or not would have been impressive.
This did not have to go through Hombu obviously. Two names that come to mind are Isao Takahashi and Shinichi Suzuki. Whether they were ‘old’, looked ‘old’ or simply ‘older’ would be a matter of subjectivity through the eyes of a 6 year old boy.
I’m positive my recall of the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement are not entirely accurate.
I think the main point is that a little kid saw something which had a lasting impression on him…period.
Seems to be a lot of negative speculation and wasted energy IMO.

Asim
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Old 05-22-2008, 10:11 AM   #11
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Re: More Seagal on YouTube

Quote:
I think the main point is that a little kid saw something which had a lasting impression on him…period.
Seems to be a lot of negative speculation and wasted energy IMO.

Oh I think it''s way more interesting than writing it off at that. Actually I find the idea fascinating. Assuming he was telling the truth -there might be some interesting stories behind what went on.
He was living in California at that time. And one source says he started aikido at age 7 under Kobayashi! there is one possible source.
In the 50's there just weren't allot of Aikido old men around. It narrows the field considerably. Even if a little boys eyes considered 40 yr old -old. Who could it have been. Again we're not talking about a teacher. There were supposedly several Uke? Who would those people have been. It was such a very small community that someone is sure to know about it. I'm sure someone trains or knows someone who trains with Seagal who can get a location, (and whether it was a football or baseball) for that event. From there there will be someone who knows or trains with the men who would have been there demonstrating. It would be a noteworthy and milestone event in Aikido history for several reasons I can think of.

Last edited by DH : 05-22-2008 at 10:16 AM.
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Old 05-22-2008, 10:32 AM   #12
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Re: More Seagal on YouTube

I couldn't edit my connection was glitchy.
One source says he started aikido at age 7 under Kobayashi in California so there is one possible source. Yet oddly Kobayashi himself did not fomally begin training himself until 1957 after first meeting Tohei in 53. So. how could Seagal train under him in 1958? Or have seen him demonstrate before a crowd in 1957? So it must have been someone else. Tohei was Kobayash's teacher. Could Tohei have come to do the Demo and no one has ever mentioned it? That's rather odd too.
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Old 05-24-2008, 06:20 PM   #13
Keith Larman
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Re: More Seagal on YouTube

Our late sensei Rod Kobayashi did test him for shodan, that I know for sure. The rest I'll ask around about as I've heard a lot of stories about Seagal over the years, but not much of substance. There are still some in our organization who remember him from way back.

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Old 05-25-2008, 03:31 PM   #14
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Re: More Seagal on YouTube

I'll type more later, but for now while it is fresh in my head... I need to clarify some things and do a mea culpa.

I talked with a couple people who were around in the 60's and 70's in the Aikido world in Southern California about Steven Seagal (Steve Segal).

Seagal (Segal?) started with the McEnzies (sp?) in Orange County who were teaching at what was I think a High School. They in turn were training with Ishizaka. Then all of them tended to come to the group seminars Kobayashi was teaching in the very early 70's (more on that later when I get a copy of something). So, no, Seagal did not start training with Rod Kobayashi when he was 7, that is impossible and absurd on the face of it. More like he came to some group training sessions (seminars, summer camps, etc.) when Kobayashi was teaching large groups. This would be the early 70's which would put him at the youngest as a teenager or in his early 20's.

He was not a direct student of Rod Kobayashi in the sense of someone who trains with someone extensively. More accurately it would be to say he was a student of those who had also studied with Kobayashi and he attended large group events.

Interestingly I just read Seagal's wikipedia page. It says Kobayashi tested him for Shodan in 1974 (something I've read many places and repeated myself above with certainty). However, just today I asked Mrs. Kobayashi (Rod Kobayashi's widow) if she remembered if Kobayashi tested Seagal for shodan. She did remember Seagal quite well from the old days as he tagged along a lot with his instructors and came to many of Kobayashi's bigger events. He was an enthusiastic young man who also sometimes lived in various dojo as he was starting out so he could train more. She also remembered when and why he went to Japan. But she did not remember if Kobayashi ever tested him for Shodan. So I need to back away from my statement that I know he tested him for sure. In retrospect I've seen that stated many times, but when I asked people who were around then nobody seems really sure of it. And of course Kobayashi sensei is no longer with us and that was quite a while ago. So I need to retract that statement. It is certainly possible as Kobayashi-sensei sat on a lot of boards at that time. However, whether Seagal was tested for shodan I do not know for sure.

I'll also point out the wikipedia page for Seagal says that he did test under Kobayashi. It also says a bunch of other things that are rather questionable. Including "The main fact that gives Steven Seagal the advantage is that he claims that he was trained by the founder of Aikido, Ōsensei Morihei Ueshiba." which is a gigantic load of BS. If he was in fact promoted to Shodan in 1974... Well, you get the idea... That's just silly. So I'm not sure how much faith i'd put into the wikipedia page. There seems to be a lot of conflicting info there and if anything information about his early career, training in japan, reasons for going, etc. all seem to be wrapped up in a lot of stories mixed with truths and half-truths.

Bottom line is that most said he was sincere and trained very hard in those early days. Once he left for Japan... I have no contacts with that info so there you go.

And with respect to seeing a demonstration when he was a small kid... no one had any idea who that could possibly have been given the timeframe. Especially the whole "little old man" thing. It seems most who go back that far tend to remember him starting as a teenager in Southern California. And no one could think of anyone in the early days coming to the US to go to Lansing...

Maybe more later if I can get my hand on a photo I'd seen before...

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Old 05-26-2008, 10:46 AM   #15
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Re: More Seagal on YouTube

In his first wife's book Fujitani claims to have met Seagal for the first time in 1974 (she was a san-dan, he was still a 1st kyu) on a trip to California. He went to Japan later on that same year after testing for sho-dan. According to Fujitani he couldn't speak Japanese in 1974.

Best,

Chris

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Old 05-26-2008, 12:45 PM   #16
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Re: More Seagal on YouTube

Quote:
Keith Larman wrote: View Post
Maybe more later if I can get my hand on a photo I'd seen before...
Would that be the B&W photo of the camp with a young Seagal standing in the back row? We have it at our dojo but I don't think it has any info with it (date, etc).

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 05-26-2008, 01:00 PM   #17
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Re: More Seagal on YouTube

Yup, that's the one.

Hazy memories are dating it roughly in 1972. Too bad it isn't dated.

Hmmm, maybe Chan-sensei remembers. I should ask him on Wednesday...

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Old 05-26-2008, 01:03 PM   #18
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Re: More Seagal on YouTube

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
In his first wife's book Fujitani claims to have met Seagal for the first time in 1974 (she was a san-dan, he was still a 1st kyu) on a trip to California. He went to Japan later on that same year after testing for sho-dan. According to Fujitani he couldn't speak Japanese in 1974.

Best,

Chris
Yes, some people remember her visit to California and her meeting Seagal when she was here.

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Old 05-26-2008, 01:06 PM   #19
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Re: More Seagal on YouTube

Quote:
Bronson Diffin wrote: View Post
Would that be the B&W photo of the camp with a young Seagal standing in the back row? We have it at our dojo but I don't think it has any info with it (date, etc).

Bronson
Bronson, by the way, if you have a high quality scan of that photo I'd really appreciate it. We have a wall devoted to many of the old camp photos at AIA but that one is conspicuously missing. I'd love to be able to print out a new one to up and get a more complete set.

BTW, I'm coming out your way for camp this year. If I'm feeling frisky I might bring a few swords to show around assuming I want to deal with TSA...

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Old 05-26-2008, 04:06 PM   #20
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Re: More Seagal on YouTube

Hi Keith
Thanks for looking into it. Sorry to say that I smelled something funny. BTW he moved to California, so it would have been in California when he saw the demo. But with such conflicting information who will ever know? I was hoping for someone who knew him or those close to him who could simply ask more direct questions. I already figured it was probably more B.S. from, or about Seagal, but on the outside chance someone did come out for a demo from the aikikai, or it turned out to be Judo or Karate or somebody else significant, it might have proven interesting none-the-less.
I hope you don't mind still asking around.
Thanks again
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Old 05-26-2008, 04:36 PM   #21
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Re: More Seagal on YouTube

According to his official website: After seeing a Martial Arts exhibition during halftime of a football game, Steven Seagal was captivated and intrigued. It was from there that a burning desire built within him to achieve at the highest possible levels in the Martial Arts.

He does not say it was aikido he saw-just martial arts.
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Old 05-26-2008, 04:55 PM   #22
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Re: More Seagal on YouTube

Folks
Just to add to the actual time line... When I started at Orange County Aikikai (Orange, California) in 1974 Steve Seagal (Segal) was an ikkyu in his early 20's in that dojo. Harry Ishisaka, 5 dan, was the chief instructor. Ishisaka Sensei was part of Rod Kobayashi organization here in So Cal, but was from the Big Island and had reached black belt there before coming to California.

Steve tested, or at least did his randori for shodan at Cal State Fullerton in the summer of 1974 when Tohei Sensei taught a week long seminar on campus. I was in attendance for the randori, but did not see the rest of his dan test. Steve went to Japan not to long after that. Steve was a young and full of it as I recall...not the most popular individual in the dojo. I had very little direct contact with him during those few short months. I did have several meetings with him in the intervening years, the last being (I think) in 1986 at LA Aikikai during a meeting with some of the local instructors. He always treated me with respect. I can't really comment other than on these few connects.
Gary
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Old 05-26-2008, 05:13 PM   #23
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Re: More Seagal on YouTube

Quote:
Gary Welborn wrote: View Post
When I started at Orange County Aikikai (Orange, California) in 1974 Steve Seagal (Segal) was an ikkyu in his early 20's in that dojo. Harry Ishisaka, 5 dan, was the chief instructor. Ishisaka Sensei was part of Rod Kobayashi organization here in So Cal, but was from the Big Island and had reached black belt there before coming to California. ....
Gary, thanks for that. And I'm sorry I misspelled Harry Ishisaka's name (sorry, brain on autopilot, I was thinking of him but spelling it like someone else I know). Argh, I need to keep my info straight myself, I certainly don't want to contribute to misinformation.

Anyway, do you recall if Rod Kobayashi was on the board as well for that test? I'd just like to keep the history straight since people back at Seidokan had differing memories.

And yes, he did seem to make an impression on people who were around back then. For a variety of reasons I suppose.

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Old 05-26-2008, 06:27 PM   #24
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Re: More Seagal on YouTube

Keith
I was really new then, going half day to the seminar and then back to work....I just don't recall who was sitting on the test board. I heard, second hand of course, that Tohei Sensei was impressed with Steve and I know that Steve had expressed interest in going to Japan which may be why he tested a sooner than he might have under the usual training timeframe. I can ask....there are still a few around who may have been there.....
Gary
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Old 05-26-2008, 10:41 PM   #25
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Re: More Seagal on YouTube

Gary:

If you don't mind, I would appreciate it. I've been working on updating Kobayashi Sensei's bio and I wanted to track down a few things, this being one of them. I've seen it stated a couple times that Seagal was tested by Kobayashi. But I've only received conflicting info from the folk I know. And that may make sense in retrospect if Tohei was there as I would imagine it would be more accurate to say that he was tested by Tohei as chief examiner. So Kobayashi may have been on the board but not chief examiner. Unless of course Tohei was just there observing... Argh...

Anyway, that's exactly the kind of stuff I'd like to clarify if for no other reason just like to be as accurate as possible. Lord knows there is too much obfuscation in the history and we're rapidly getting to the point where there are fewer and fewer people to ask about those early days in Aikido in the US.

So in summary, from what I've been told Seagal's training with Kobayashi-sensei was mostly limited to seminars and camps and his more direct instructors were two people named McEnzie (not sure of the spelling) who were themselves training with Harry Ishisaka. And Harry Ishisaka was part of the larger organization run at that time by Kobayashi in the Western US.

Basically I'm a history geek at heart and I'd really just like to keep things as accurate as possible.

And back to Dan's original question... I couldn't find anyone who remembered any "big names" coming to the Southern California area in 1958 for a demo at a sporting event. Not from Aikido at least. Of course I've seen that story in multiple variations (interviews where he seems to be saying aikido specifically vs. website that says just martial arts) so who knows what he was talking about really or if it really happened at all. Doesn't mean it didn't happen, but it is odd that no one else knows about it. And only a 7-year-old at the time remembered it.

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